A bit more for you this week than last week, but still on brand with a fairly chaotic assortment.
A quick heads up that this letter will soon be transitioning into a dedicated seasonal affective disorder support group due to the fact that it is nighttime all the time now.
Yours, in darkness,
I caught the first episode of Gus Van Sant’s Gucci-produced web series, a bizarre and captivating thing that features Paul B. Preciado alongside Silvia Calderoni, and a soundtrack by Kim Gordon and Billie Eilish.
If the comments are anything to go by, it seems fair to say that the appearance of Harry Styles in a later episode is extending the reach of the series somewhat. Whatever you make of the episode, it’s undeniably the most significant fashion/theory crossover since the weird and much discussed Abercrombie & Fitch sex thing that Žižek did in 2003.
I’m already very much looking forward to this time next year when I anticipate John Lewis premiering a Christmas advert composed entirely of Cyclonopedia quotes and screaming.
I’d been looking forward to My Albion, Zakia Sewell’s new radio doc on British national identity for a while, and the first episode which aired last week did not disappoint. Via a Pentangle song and conversations with her father, the all-female morris side Boss Morris, the artist Ben Edge and others, Zakia reframes the question of who traditional music and culture belongs to, and troubles the perpetual rightwards drift of concepts like Albion.
Along with the current crop of progressive folklore pamphlets such as Weird Walk and Hellebore, and writers like Justin Hopper, the show feels like one of the strongest points of resistance to the centring of whiteness in British folk culture and tradition.
New episodes of My Albion air on Radio 4 at 11:30am on Tuesdays for the next few weeks, be sure to tune in. Also, if Zakia’s Saturday morning NTS show isn’t already a firm feature of your weekends then I just don’t know what to tell you.
The music that offers quietness stills things just enough to let us see what we’d been ignoring or smudging into one incoherent mess of motion.
I was very into the first episode of Frieze’s new listening series with Fred Moten and Harmony Holiday, which thinks about quietness via Billie Holiday, James Baldwin, Amiri Baraka, Mary J. Blige, Ornette Coleman, and John Keats. Also check out Harmony Holiday’s excellent accompanying essay.
The second session happened last week but at the time of writing is not yet online. Keep an eye out, though, and register for the third session on December 17th. I definitely need to find more events of precisely this format.
Dalston’s Rio Cinema aka the best cinema in London recently announced Rio Player with a launch programme that is immediately killer. My recommendation for you is Cheryl Dunye’s The Watermelon Woman, a film I saw for the first time a couple of months ago that feels like something of a loose mid-90s precursor to the method of archival engagement Saidiya Hartman describes as ‘critical fabulation.’
On a related note, materials from the slide archive discovered at the Rio a few years back have now grown into a very excellent book which, if you have any interest whatsoever in Hackney, I encourage you to purchase.
You’ve got another week or so to participate in Another Subculture’s lockdown zine swap and I really recommend that you do so. Your one-page zine can be on whatever you want and it costs zero pounds if you’re in the UK. Honestly why wouldn’t you?
Big thanks to Kellye for recommending the incredible Cocaine & Rhinestones podcast, which has been soundtracking my tentative return to park running over the last couple of weeks. This arrived largely off the back of the ‘That Ain't Country’ episode of Hari Kunzru’s Into the Zone mentioned a couple of weeks ago, but the depth of research that has gone into C&R is on a whole other level entirely.
The episode on Bobbie Gentry, and the three(!) episodes on ‘Harper Valley PTA’ are particularly good, but my main recommendation is the one on The Louvin Brothers and the principle of ‘blood harmony’ which I have not stopped thinking about.
I guess it’s a few years old already so maybe this comes way too late to be useful. Right now, though, I seem to find myself just wanting to be told intricate stories about some mad shit that happened once. This is absolutely that.
Each episode is available as a blog post with supplementary materials if you’d prefer to read but I wholeheartedly recommend you listen to the lot (maybe skipping the one part in episode three that host Tyler Mahan Coe suggests you might want to skip).
I can’t remember who was responsible for this popping up in my feed last week, but Wikipedia’s timeline of the far future has properly done my nut. I was drawn to it largely as a result of having read recent near-cancelee Liu Cixin’s Remembrance of Earth's Past trilogy last winter (which begin in the late 1960s and end several million years in the future) and now I’m mostly wondering where I can find experimental fiction about Boltzmann brains. If anyone has any leads on far-future/heat-death poetics, please share.
Okay that is your lot. Fashion ads and Wikipedia pages is what you can expect from me now I guess. Bye 👋